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castmaster

Wiring Wheel House

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Trying to decide between electrical options, mainly between going with a WFCO type power supply box with the built in charger and converter, or going with a separate 12v fuse block,  on board charger and inverter. Pros and cons to each system?

Can the WFCO style boxes be wired with an inverter so your 110 stuff runs of the battery when not running the generator?

Will any 12v items like Vexilar's, Aqua Vu's etc have issues running at the same time the generator is powering the onboard charger?

Will be powering an Atwood 18k btu furnace, 2 or 3 vexilar's, couple Aqua Vu's, 2 15" tvs and some other chargers etc on the 12v. Nothing with a real big draw. Would prefer to run off of battery power as much as possible, but also don't want to wake up at 3 am to a dead battery and no heat!

If going the inverter/onboard charger route, does one trust the circuit protection on the generator, or wire in a gfci outlet? Or better yet wire in a 2 circuit breaker panel for the 110?

 

Edited by castmaster

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Lots of questions.  I'll answer in my experience.  Go with a converter.  Inverters are not efficient.  

Yes you can run all of your 12v items while the generator is powering the charge.  It just wont charge as fast(or it will but will be discharging at the same time.)

Yes, you can run a inverter off your converter.  Yes I would trust a generators circuit protection, but I also trust the protection for the power companies and still use power blocks at home.  Put in a GFCI if your concerned.  They are cheap and easy.  If your wiring in a panel, more reason to look at a converter as it will already be in the unit.  

Have you added up the cost of the charger, panel, wire blocks etc for running an onboard charger?  May not be much cheaper.  In a fish house space is key and with the converter everything is in one spot, with one self contained panel that you have access to at any time.  

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Go with the manufactured power supply.  They are cleaner, easier, and much more practical.  Personally, I like the Progressive Dynamics PD4045 but WFCO will still do the job.  Also make sure you get a battery disconnect switch (I've got a Blue Sea Systems) to make sure any parasitic losses aren't happening between trips. 

I would suggest to not use an inverter at all.  They are inefficient and I would suggest at least two batteries to make sure you always have enough power for your furnace if you are really considering an inverter.  You don't have any big power draws but little things add up quick. 

Personal preference for myself and a majority of wheelhouse users is to just run the generator the whole weekend.  Get yourself an extended run gas tank and don't worry about anything all weekend.  You will need to change the oil in your generator before it runs out of gas.  Having the generator on all weekend opens up a lot of other opportunities too, my favorite being the crock pot.  Nothing better than a fresh 8 hour roast or chili while fishing. 

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Thats the way I ran mine.  One run of AC comes from the converter, and one run terminates in a male plug that goes into my inverter.  That outlet run is dead unless I am running it off my inverter but I just split the couple outlets I would need behind the TV and one other spot and it seems to be working flawlessly so far.  I can watch Dish TV without firing up the genny if I want.  Only time I would really do this is during a hot bite to minimize noise.  Outside of that, just let er run.

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Thanks everyone for the replies. I am planning to go with the ac/dc distribution panel with built in converter and charger. Then adding an automatic transfer switch, and an inverter. I m going to bring  the exterior generator outlet directly into a gfci outlet box. Then wiring the transfer switch as follows...

To the NO(normally open) terminals I will wire either a piece of 14ga romex with a male plug wired on the other end, or just get a cord of the correct size with the plug on it, which will plug into the "hot" gfci outlet being fed by the generator. I will do the same at the NC(normally closed) terminals, which can be plugged into the inverter. Then from the transfer switch output I will wire a piece of romex with a female plug, or correct size cord with same. From the main terminals on the 110v side of the distribution panel I will wire of piece of romex or cord with a male plug on it. That can then be plugged into the female plug coming out of the transfer switch.

I figure wiring it that way gives me the option of bypassing the transfer switch and plugging the distribution panel directly into the "hot" gfci outlet from the generator if the transfer switch should fail.

The transfer switch should feed the output from the NO terminals as long as they have power to them. If they lose power, i.e. turning the generator off, then the NO terminal close and it switches the NC terminals open and feeds the output from those, which would be the inverter in this case.

 

I had been told by one of the places that sells fish house materials that I couldn't wire an inverter in with one of their WFCO panels. I knew there was a way so I thank you guys for making me think about it a little more. I think this set up will give me exactly what I'm looking for. I plan on running a Honda 2000W generator, and then two 31 series AGM batteries wired in paralell. Will run the generator during the day when convenient, but also want the ability to "run and gun" more when conditions allow without needing to set up the generator every time just to power a couple small AC items.

 

Anyone have any experience with the automatic transfer switches? Go Power brand seems to have good reviews. Same with distribution panels. 2 I see the most are the WFCO and the Progressive Dynamics. YettiStyle, what is it that you prefer about the Progressive Dynamics panel? Better quality? Easier connections? etc...

 

Thanks again to everyone!

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7 hours ago, rl_sd said:

Everyone is correct in saying that a converter is the way to go. When hooked up to shoreline or generator power, batteries are efficiently being charged while also providing clean 120v AC and 12v DC power. There may be an additional option to give you the best of both worlds though....

 

How many 120 v circuits are you planning on having? Is it safe to assume that everything will be on one? Assuming that you will be running a honda or similar 2000 watt inverter-style generator... One 15 amp circuit is about all you will be able to run. I am in the same boat as you are... I have quite a bit of battery capability on board and a generator... but would like to be able to run 120v without having the generator going. What I am thinking about doing is this....

 

Invert_Setup.thumb.jpg.0753957fcea43669b75832ccdeeef131.jpg

 

Now... I haven't tried this yet and by no means am an electrician.. But my thought is that my single AC circuit that feeds my outlets would be wired to a male plug. The Line out from my converter would be wired to a household female plug.... And then there is the inverter which already has a female plug. Basically, I can choose which source I want to use to feed the outlets... either inverter or generator. There may be better ways to do this, such as a transfer or 3-way switch - but I think it would be nice to physically know where the power is coming from. To me, this is the easiest way to have the best of both worlds, while ensuring that aren't using your inverter to charge your batteries back through the converter. Any of ya smart guys see why this wouldn't work?

This looks like it will work to me. I had thought of doing something similar when I was thinking of going with the inverter, seperate 12v fuse block and onboard charger. Would have wired a "hot" outlet direct from generator. Then ran a piece of romex with a male plug wired onto it and tied the 110v into that. then I could have either plugged that into the "hot" outlet along with the onboard charger, when the generator was running. Or I could have plugged it into the inverter when needing to run off battery power.

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I ran 10 gauge wire from my shore or generator feeder to my converter.  Way over kill for a 2000 watt generator but if you ever take it camping or run it off a 3k in the summer it's nice to be wired for the extra wattage.  10 feet of 10 gauge really isn't that much money on the whole project... nice thing about running your inverter directly from the battery and splitting a couple outlets is they are always ready to go.  Just hit the switch on the inverter and you don't have to mess with unplugging and plugging in strings of 110 outlets.  Behind my tv the bottom outlet runs of the Genny and the top runs of the inverter.  Nice thing is if I ever wanted to run the whole 110 system off the inverter I can just run a 6 inch cord with a male plug on each end out the top outlet and into the bottom and power the whole house.

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DC to AC converters work well on low AC current but takes a bit of DC battery current. Example a drip coffee maker uses 900 AC watts (7.5 amp) which draws 83 amps DC battery current. 15 AC amps draws 165 DC battery amps. (Based on 110 VAC & 12 VDC). Batteries die quickly converting to AC.

https://www.batterystuff.com/kb/tools/ac-to-dc-amperage-conversion-run-through-an-inverter.html

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My understanding was there is something in the converter/charger in those ac/dc panels that senses what the input power source is and stops it from charging the battery when the input is by an inverter from the batteries. Is that wrong?

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8 hours ago, castmaster said:

My understanding was there is something in the converter/charger in those ac/dc panels that senses what the input power source is and stops it from charging the battery when the input is by an inverter from the batteries. Is that wrong?

Not 100% sure what your asking but the converter functions the same as a smart charger.  It will charge your battery at one of 3 speeds depending on what it needs.  Once topped off it will stop charging and just maintain.  There is no difference on where the power is coming from (Generator our house outlet) it should function the same either way.  Think of the converter as essentially 3 systems all built in one unit.  A charger, an AC panel, and a DC block.  The wiring is the same as if you wired all three independently, they just take care of some of it for you internally.

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37 minutes ago, Moon Lake Refuge said:

Not 100% sure what your asking but the converter functions the same as a smart charger.  It will charge your battery at one of 3 speeds depending on what it needs.  Once topped off it will stop charging and just maintain.  There is no difference on where the power is coming from (Generator our house outlet) it should function the same either way.  Think of the converter as essentially 3 systems all built in one unit.  A charger, an AC panel, and a DC block.  The wiring is the same as if you wired all three independently, they just take care of some of it for you internally.

I understand all that. I thought they also had something that would not allow the charger to turn on if the input power was from a battery powered inverter. If not, then the batteries are trying to power a charger that is charging them.

If not then I need to rethink how I'm wiring everything. Doesn't make much sense to draw down the batteries powering an inverter in which the biggest draw would then be powering a charger to charge the same batteries.

I was going to just wire a 12ga cord with male plug maybe 2'-3' long off the AC supply to the panel. Then I will have a 30 amp gfci outlet wired independently to the generator inlet, so that outlet is always "hot" when the generator is plugged in and running. In that case I can plug the AC/DC panel into that outlet for the AC supply. When wanting to run a few small 110v items like TV/Satellite without running generator I would then plug the AC supply cord into the inverter and draw off the batteries. But I don't see that working if that's going to draw off the batteries to power the charger to charge them at the same time. Or will that not matter?

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27 minutes ago, castmaster said:

I understand all that. I thought they also had something that would not allow the charger to turn on if the input power was from a battery powered inverter. If not, then the batteries are trying to power a charger that is charging them.

If not then I need to rethink how I'm wiring everything. Doesn't make much sense to draw down the batteries powering an inverter in which the biggest draw would then be powering a charger to charge the same batteries.

I was going to just wire a 12ga cord with male plug maybe 2'-3' long off the AC supply to the panel. Then I will have a 30 amp gfci outlet wired independently to the generator inlet, so that outlet is always "hot" when the generator is plugged in and running. In that case I can plug the AC/DC panel into that outlet for the AC supply. When wanting to run a few small 110v items like TV/Satellite without running generator I would then plug the AC supply cord into the inverter and draw off the batteries. But I don't see that working if that's going to draw off the batteries to power the charger to charge them at the same time. Or will that not matter?

Your shore(power in outlet) will only ever be used for power into the converter. Completely separate line from your main runs or what your inverter would ever use.  Wired right you shouldn't ever have a loop like that.

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16 minutes ago, Moon Lake Refuge said:

Your shore(power in outlet) will only ever be used for power into the converter. Completely separate line from your main runs or what your inverter would ever use.  Wired right you shouldn't ever have a loop like that.

So what's the right way to wire that panel so I can power my AC circuit(s) off of either the shore power or the inverter. 

If the only way to power that panel is by shore power than its not going to work for me and I'd be better off returning it and going with a separate AC and DC system with a seperate onboard charger.

I realize a lot of folks set up in one spot for the weekend, fire the generator and leave it run. That's not how I fish. I want to keep the ability to move around easily when I want, and that means at times not messing with getting a generator set up just to power the tv or a Vexilar charger etc when I might be moving in 45 minutes. 

Sorry for all the questions, just don't have any experience with these AC/DC panels with built in converters and chargers etc.

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3 minutes ago, castmaster said:

So what's the right way to wire that panel so I can power my AC circuit(s) off of either the shore power or the inverter. 

If the only way to power that panel is by shore power than its not going to work for me and I'd be better off returning it and going with a separate AC and DC system with a seperate onboard charger.

I realize a lot of folks set up in one spot for the weekend, fire the generator and leave it run. That's not how I fish. I want to keep the ability to move around easily when I want, and that means at times not messing with getting a generator set up just to power the tv or a Vexilar charger etc when I might be moving in 45 minutes. 

Sorry for all the questions, just don't have any experience with these AC/DC panels with built in converters and chargers etc.

Wire the converter as instructed, your inverter would need to either power its own line, or you could wire a switch into your AC line to disconnect from the converter and tie in your inverter.  There may be another option but that the only route I know.  My inverted line is independent from the AC coming from the converter.

might check with an RV dealer as I think the bigger rigs probably have better ways to accomplish this.

 

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Thanks for the replies. I think I'm best off just returning the AC/DC panel and going the other route. A lot less monkeying around.

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